Apparently it’s a thing to post pictures of your looms on New Year’s Day Here are mine.
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I’ve updated the list of Weavers with Blogs to include my current reading choices, and also kept a few perennial favorites who I still read on occasion. The site looks much less dusty now, I think.
It’s also time for some new banner images.
My garden is metaphorical, but the harvest has been very real. What becomes of winter studies and grand projects that leave me crumpled and worn down by the hot days of summer? They come back to life in autumn, when I am refreshed and once again excited.
My winter study in Swedish art weaves is now my favorite shoulder bag. Something about the shape is familiar from my student days. I can feel my hand resting on that bag, but I cannot see it in my mind. The memory is based completely on touch and hand position. It is also familiar from more distant lives, a different bag holding the worldly goods of the barefoot gipsy girl that the gaj called Wild Blue, or another holding the few scraps of sacred text and the begging bowl of an old Buddhist nun.
The band for my Stjerne coverlet is off the loom, and I played with the ribbon swirls for a while before settling down to sew the band into a mitered border. Despite the three sewing machines in my studio, my hand reaches instinctively for needle and thread. Hand-woven fabric deserves hand-sewn seams. I can backstitch along at a good rate, and I enjoy the contrast between the cool linen border and the complex surface of cotton and linen overshot by woolen pattern threads.
Even the drawloom project is coming along. The first warp is neatly wound around the warp beam and threaded through the pattern heddles at the back of the loom. Now, the long-eyed ground heddle are hanging on their shafts and I am threading a simple broken twill for the first project.
The house and studio have been caught up in enthusiasm of the harvest. I donated three bags of clothing and one large bag of yarn, and have discarded several bags of useless stuff. It feels good to be free of things that no longer bring me joy.
I still marvel at the turns of fate that have brought me to this present moment, and especially at the inner calm that arises when I weave cloth.
You may recall that I didn’t set my clocks back when Daylight Savings ended last autumn. I kept going, deciding that I wanted to experience the slow progression of sunrise and sunset within the season, rather than being thrust abruptly into a different part of the day at the whim of some lawmakers.
Now, you’ve changed your clocks again. I had no need to, and I never will again.
I hope the day finds you in good health. Moving the clock forward is hard on the body. Take it easy. Sleep late if you can. Consider making this the last time you change your clock. Remember that there is statistical evidence that more auto accidents occur when the clocks change, and there is mounting evidence that the risk of heart attack and strokes increases when the clocks are set ahead in the spring.
For me, it will be nice to look at a public clock and not have to add an hour to what I see, or to be mistaken for a morning person, as I was all winter.
If you wonder why my standard time is actually now, and not in the winter, I made that decision to keep myself in sync with public time for as many months of the year as possible, and it seems natural for me to have my winter daylight at the end of my day.
Looking back at the winter, I feel as if I was more productive and creative than usual, and I suffered less from feeling in disharmony with the season. November was a bit of a struggle, as I grappled with the practical details of being out of sync with everyone.
There is a rising interest in abolishing the time changes. No one makes a compelling argument for them, and we are a far less regimented society than we once were. Why not give it a try?
But what about the farmers? That’s always the excuse, right? Well, I strongly support the idea that the farmers should set their working hours to take best advantage of the daylight. The only thing I ask is that they not expect the entire nation to follow.
Cross this one off my bucket list; my Stjerne coverlet is woven. Ever since I have been weaving at Vävstuga, I’ve wanted to weave the cloth for this small coverlet. I spent four days creating this, choosing colors, modifying the draft to create the wide multicolor stripes, and weaving as fast as I could, to produce the cloth that has been living in my dreams. It even looks the way I imagined, with the dark grey wool softening the pattern, and the black stripes erasing the rigid symmetry of overshot. Fårö wool comes in such beautiful colors, and I was able to select shades of yellow, blue, green and light red that play well together and have the look of indigo, goldenrod and madder dyes.
See the sample of charcoal grey sheepskin resting on the cloth? This is what I have chosen for the lining of the coverlet. I can’t wait to go for a sleigh ride with this coverlet to keep me warm. (Some assembly required. Snow not included).
But first, I must design, weave and sew on a mitered border, maybe 10cm. in width This will add a bit of interest and a bit of size to the coverlet. Then, the fabric will go to the leather worker to have the lining made, and then back to me for sewing it all together.
My own studio seems so quiet after four days of weaving at Vävstuga, where all the looms come together in a symphony of creaks and thumps. Weavers talk from loom to loom, in disjointed conversations punctuated by intense silence when the work demands it. I like to think that the improvisations in my weaving ( I won’t call them mistakes because they are all in the spirit of the pattern) were born of the good conversations.
If I had all the time in the world to weave the cloth, it might have been more perfect. I only had four days. But, would perfect cloth, woven slowly and meticulously, have been as lively as cloth woven at a breakneck pace?
When we are filled with joy and enthusiasm, perfection is far from mind. Meter upon meter of thread passed through my fingers, at least two kilometers, and maybe more. I am satisfied with my cloth, and proud that I was able to push through the fatigue and get it done. What kept me going at times was a silly rhyme that my mother taught me when I was a child.
I had to laugh
To see the calf
Go down the path
A mile and a half
In a minute and a half
To have a bath
Each new day at Buttonwood is a gift. Autumn is both a season of drawing inward and of expanded horizons. I love nothing more than to sit wrapped in a woolen blanket, enjoying the solitude of my own thoughts. Yet, this is also a time of people coming together, being festive, and anticipating the solstice. Contrasts are good. They make me appreciate the finer parts of each. Contrasts are not good. They distract me from the stillness.
Today’s solitude is one of those contrasts, because I am home from a long weekend in New York City, and what could be a greater contrast to my life here than the bustle of the city? I’ve left most of my city life far behind me, but I cherish visiting with a good friend, laughing ourselves silly and talking ourselves hoarse. This year we visited three holiday markets, and as always, found the Union Square market the most festive and beautiful.
There is nothing more joyful than colorful lights on a dark night. It’s what we do best at this time of year.
I have not had an easy time coming into inner stillness this year. Have I been too restless to find the wisdom that lives deep within the heart? It’s always possible that the serenity of the stillness itself is the only gift.
Little did I imagine that wisdom would arrive with such clarity on a noisy and crowded subway platform.
There were three young men hanging out at the end of the platform, in the narrow section just before the stairs. They were not exactly blocking the way, but they were hanging out with a bit of attitude, in a way that didn’t give us room to pass. I didn’t say anything, but I looked right into the eyes of one of the young men and smiled.
He smiled back at me, and they rearranged themselves so that we could walk to the stairs.
Never underestimate the power of a smile.
With all the tension in the world right now, it is easy to become separated from each other.
A smile can bring us back together.
Everything on my kitchen table is handmade, and none of it by me. It feels good to appreciate and to support the work of others that I admire.
Highlighting what is new–a gorgeous block weave tablecloth by one of my favorite weavers, Beverly Bowman of Northampton. Beverly is a Vävstuga alumna and her work is just wonderful. The mug and muffin plate are by Leona Arthen of Triskele Design. I love the playful snowflakes in the blue glaze on the plate. Pottery is a very mysterious thing, and even the potter can be surprised by the transformations that happen in the kiln. In addition to being a potter, Leona is also a spinner, weaver, knitter and painter.
Hurry! You can make it to the Hilltown Artisans sale, which runs until 4PM today (Nov 14) and from 10-4 tomorrow. It’s at the Worthington Town Hall.
Most years, I complain about the return to Standard Time. This year, I decided to do something about it. I have chosen to keep Atlantic Standard Time, which means that I didn’t turn my clock back an hour.
There are a few more weeks of glorious late afternoon sun, and I don’t want to waste a minute of it.
Tomorrow I have to slip quietly out of the best paradise I have known and spend a few days at a professional conference, working hard to wring a few drops of knowledge from the ego-saturated self-important blather that characterizes this sort of event. The culture shift is going to be painful.
Here at Buttonwood, in my beloved hills, we are plain folk. When firewood needs to be stacked, as mine did yesterday, we just stack it, quickly and efficiently. We do not produce a 45 page PowerPoint, complete with graphs and charts, that impresses no one. The essence of stacking wood is this. Wear gloves and sturdy boots, stack the wood off the ground, and keep the face plumb.
Yes, stacking wood is part of my paradise. So is knitting warm mittens, washing a fleece that will someday be a cosy shawl, visiting the NY Sheep and Wool festival in Rhinebeck, and savoring the beauty of autumn leaves.
It’s not a completely solitary paradise, for Rhinebeck is always combined with a visit from a good friend, and a chance to be among many creative people. My own creative time is punctuated with the camaraderie of my spinning circle. Today, I am going to a house raising. There’s a sense of urgency surrounding this.
Winter is coming.